The Aberdeen Bestiary

Folio 3v - blank page

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Commentary, Translation and Transcription

These sections are located below the image on each page, scroll down page and click on the tabs to view them. It is also possible to view the translation alongside the image by clicking the translation icon in the toolbar

It is not part of the project to provide a definitive edition of the text of the Bestiary, but to help readers by providing a transcription and translation of the text. Currently the following editorial conventions obtain:


  1. The original capitalisation is retained, but capitals have been added for personal and place names, excluding deus and diabolus.
  2. The original punctuation, including a point and inverted semi-colon (both serving as commas), and a point (serving as a full stop), is represented by comma, full stop and question-mark; a colon has been inserted before quotations.
  3. Suggested readings are in [ ].
  4. Variants from other Bestiary texts (eg Ashmole 1511 and Patrologia Latina 176) are added where they indicate a corruption, elucidate a meaning and replace excised text. They are represented as [A: PL:]


  1. Direct quotations from the Bible, where identified, are cited from the Authorised Version in ( ).
  2. Paraphrased quotations are identified where possible and indicated as: (see Job, 18:22).
  3. Suggested translations of corrupt words are in [ ].
  4. Capitalisation is sparing; additional punctuation has been used where necessary to give the sense. Paragraphs have been created to break up the text.

Blank page with pricking for design transfer. This page and f.4r were deliberately left blank and probably intended to be glued together. This would be to support f.4v which illustrates the monumental Christ in Majesty, weighty with gold leaf and seeping saturated colour onto f.4r. As a result, the pricking and seepage on f.3r do not damage the image on f.4v. If f.3v and 4r were intended to be glued together, this suggests the pricking took place soon after the Adam and Eve scene was complete. Between exactly the same images, Creation of Adam and Eve and Christ in Majesty, Ashmole also has blank pages, on f.7v and f.8r.

Folio Attributes

  • Pricking


    Line pricking and ruling. Detail from f.7r

    Once the quires were arranged they had to be prepared for writing by drawing up the lines. Tiny parallel pinpricks were made on the outer and inner edges of each page and horizontal lines ruled between them. In a completed book these pinpricks should have been trimmed off during the final stages of production but in the Aberdeen Bestiary they have survived in 12 out of the 15 quires (only E , G and M are fully trimmed). Careful measuring shows that the holes were pricked with the quires folded up, using a long pointed pricker, because they are the same distance apart throughout an entire quire. In quires B and C there is a double hole on the penultimate line, indicating to the person ruling lines that the page is about to end. In these two quires the holes have a coarse triangular shape and are set up to 6mm in from the edge. Elsewhere the holes are smaller, circular and much closer to the edge. Pinpricks were also made at the top and bottom of the pages to provide vertical margins. These survive in every quire. In quires A.F,H,J,K,L,M and N there are single pricks for the vertical lines. In B and C there are double pricks and double margins while in G there are double pricks and a variety of single and double ruled lines. On f.48r (quire G) where there are double pricks for the margins, the wrong holes have been joined and the faulty diagonal line has been redrawn correctly.

  • Pouncing


    Pouncing. Detail of Hyena from f.11v

    Pouncing is a method of copying images from one sheet of vellum to another by making a series of tiny prick marks around the required image. The image would be pricked straight through to a sheet below. This would become the template from which several copies could be made without further harm to the original. The pricked sheet would be sprinkled with a very fine dust like charcoal or pumice, which would trickle through the holes producing the required image below. It was a convenient way to duplicate images in a scriptorium where many similar copies of a book were required. Although the Ashmolean Bestiary has very similar images to the Aberdeen Bestiary, in general their different proportions show that they were not a direct copy. The evidence of pouncing in the Aberdeen Bestiary suggests that there was yet another member of this family of manuscripts, directly dependent on the Aberdeen design. Images marked in this way are on f.2r fishes, f.3r the creation of Eve (more visible on f.3v), f.11v hyena, f.12v ape, f.18r dog, f.24r mole, f.36v hoopoe, f.37r magpies, f.51v bat, f.54r partridge, f.56r phoenix, f.59r ducks, f.59v peacock, f.63r bees, f.66v vipers, f.68v anphivena, f.69v seps. In most cases it is impossible to tell when the pouncing took place but the Aberdeen Bestiary has evidence that some pictures were done while the book was being made and some were done after completion (Clark 1992,107). The Creation of Eve (f.3r) and the phoenix (f.56r) are both punched and blank on the verso. The two pages after the phoenix are blank and glued together, thus preventing the pricks on f.56r from damaging the new f.56v. The same can be observed at f.3r which is followed by two blanks and the next image on f.4v. Clearly these were intended to be stuck together to minimise the effect of pricking around Eve, and to support the heavy layers of paint and gold of the Christ in Majesty. Decisions to leave these blank pages must have been made while the drawings were being produced. Elsewhere the pouncing damages the other side of the folio, often including an illumination. These incursions must have been made after the book was complete.



Folio 3v - blank page  | The Aberdeen Bestiary | The University of Aberdeen